The UN and the IPCC have acknowledged that Africa is the continent most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Impacts such as warmer temperatures, increased drought, flooding, and soil erosion, continue to hurt the continent’s food security and threaten its future. Yet there is no coherent food policy in the region. Instead, Africa’s food systems are shaped by a myriad of policies that pressure small-scale producers to adopt industrial agriculture initiatives such as “climate-smart” agriculture, GMO seeds, and fossil fuel-based chemical inputs. These practices release the carbon stored in the soil, increase the dependency on expensive chemical inputs, and pollute precious water resources.
AFSA, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa, promotes agroecology and food sovereignty as an urgent 21st-century climate change solution and works to make the African food system more resilient. In 2011, AFSA first appeared at COP17, the UN Climate Change Conference held in South Africa. As a civil society collaboration of 40 member networks of farmers, pastoralists, Indigenous people, citizens, and environmentalists from 50 African countries, the AFSA is a powerful uniting force that bolsters an agenda centered on small farmer-led agriculture. It is determined to amplify agroecological practices and resist initiatives that seek to privilege agribusiness and techno-fixes over justice and sustainability.
The Sub-Saharan Afrotropics realm has been particularly hard hit by climate change, and AFSA has targeted an important focal point in Senegal. Through its Senegal program, it aims to improve the livelihoods of small-scale farmers and the sustainability of farming communities in the broader region, while working to stop harmful agricultural practices that are contributing to global temperature rise. This project will support the transition from industrial agriculture to traditional agroecology, train renewable cultivation practices, and raise awareness through community campaigns. Ultimately, the goal is to build the largest social movement for food sovereignty in Africa.
Focusing on areas such as land, seed sovereignty, and pastoralism, ASFA has published 33 case studies of agroecological practices across Africa, producing a “Know Agroecology” media guide for journalists, communicators, and practitioners. It has also amplified its ambitious “Agroecology for Climate Resilience” campaign to demonstrate that only agroecological practices will cool the planet, feed the world, and regenerate ecosystems. This project aims to reach 7 million African citizens and make agroecology a key climate mitigation and adaptation strategy in the official climate plans of 10 African countries.
At the last Agroecology for Resilience to Climate Change conference in Addis, Ethiopia, members discussed effective practices and explored policy directions, including the development of a road map for a food policy for Africa. With movement-building efforts that have resulted in a food sovereignty crusade that is gaining in strength and influence. This message has been taken to high-profile climate meetings, such as the FAO Regional Agroecology Symposium in Dakar, Senegal, Africa Climate week, and the COP25 in Madrid.
Funding resources will support numerous multi-actor dialogues to bridge different policy arenas through which food systems are governed at the international, national, and local levels, identifying priorities for reform and bringing them together under a single agenda. The work in Senegal will form the basis of the emerging Africa Food Policy designed to benefit farmers and consumers alike, which will be actively promoted at UN climate change and food systems conferences as well as national and regional policy convenings, to prove that more resources need to be directed to smallholder farmers in the region to increase food security in the midst of climate change.